Daniel Ricciardo finished Friday afternoon with the fastest practice time in Azerbaijan.
Daniel Ricciardo finished Friday afternoon with the fastest practice time in Azerbaijan.

Ricciardo, Red Bull poised to continue run of upsets

AUSTRALIA'S Daniel Ricciardo and Red Bull are confident they have a race-winning car at the Azerbaijan GP, even if Mercedes and Ferrari close their deficit in Saturday's qualifying session.

Ricciardo posted the fastest time in Practice Two on Friday, 1:42.795, with teammate Max Verstappen just a 10th of a second slower.

Kimi Raikkonen split the two Red Bulls to finish just six-hundredths of a second off Ricciardo's benchmark - though the Finn's time was aided by receiving a tow along the Baku street circuit's long start-finish straight - and both Mercedes cars were over seven tenths down on the best time.

Ricciardo is seeking back-to-back wins after victory in China last time out. He concedes Red Bull may see their   advantage wiped out when Mercedes and Ferrari turn up their engines on Saturday, but he expects to be firmly in the victory hunt on race day.

"There are a few of us that are going to be close, I certainly feel like I'm up there," Ricciardo told Sky Sports F1.

"I feel like I'm driving well and I felt comfortable out there today. That's the important thing with a street circuit, you want that comfort in yourself and the car.

"Our car in the tight stuff is really good. Sector two I felt comfortable all day - that was really strong for us.

"As always in qualifying, I think the others will turn it up a bit more so I think we'll probably lose out a bit more in sectors one and three, but sector two will be the key for us."

He added: "Even if we can't qualify on the front row then I think the race car will be strong."

Red Bull has shown strong long-run pace all season and that continued in Baku with Verstappen leading the way and both drivers matching the pace shown by Ferrari, Mercedes was a second slower on average on the ultra-soft tyre.

Verstappen's shared his teammate's confidence after recovering from a spin into the barriers in Practice One and said Red Bull also had more to deliver over the remainder of the weekend.

"We look quick. Of course, you always want to improve and we know that in qualifying they have these power modes so they will be even closer," the Dutchman said.

"But then, on the other hand, we still have a bit as well and this track is a lot about confidence, so if you feel really good in the car you can get the job done as well."


Mercedes were off the pace on Friday afternoon.
Mercedes were off the pace on Friday afternoon.



Story originally appeared on Sky Sports and is reproduced with permission.